St John of God Subiaco Hospital urges importance of Amniotic Fluid Embolism awareness

St John of God Subiaco Hospital urges importance of Amniotic Fluid Embolism awareness

JILLIAN Stevenson was at the right place at the right time four years ago when she survived an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) during the birth of her daughter.

An AFE is a very rare condition affecting birthing mothers where amniotic fluid enters the bloodstream, triggering a reaction that can lead to heart and lung collapse.

Ms Stevenson had a healthy birth at St John of God Subiaco Hospital but 30 minutes after daughter Zara was born, she suffered a sudden AFE.

AFE Awareness Day was celebrated on Wednesday and Head of Obstetric Anaesthesia at St John of God Subiaco Hospital Clinical Professor Nolan McDonnell said it was important to spread awareness about the condition.

“Jillian was very close to having a cardiac arrest – she required a very large amount of blood and blood products in a very short amount of time,” he said.

Professor McDonnell said Jillian may not have survived if she had delivered in an environment that did not have access to the advanced life support measures required.

“St John of God Subiaco has a phenomenal transfusion and laboratory service, and there is an operating theatre in maternity – this was key for Jillian because she was so sick that she would not have survived being transferred to another floor to a general operating theatre,” he said.

“She needed over 40 units of blood and blood products and to be on life support to be able to survive.”

He said AFE was one of the most feared complications of pregnancy as it was unpredictable, unpreventable and could be fatal for women and their babies.

“It is vital that the onset of the condition is recognised, and that the mother is given advanced life support as soon as possible – even when this occurs she may not survive,” he said.

Ms Stevenson said that while she was physically well, it had taken her years to recover from the trauma of the event.